What can I say about the new Specialized S-Works + McLaren Venge that has not already been said? If you opened your web browser at all yesterday, it was hard to miss at least one mention of this new road bike, which Specialized developed in collaboration with the McLaren Group. In the five years since I started this blog, I really can’t remember a single bike release that generated so much attention on the internet so quickly. Richard at Cyclelicious was the first bike blogger to mention it to me, but I also saw posts at VeloNews, CyclingNews, Bike198, Bike Rumor, Road Bike Action, BikeRadar, Bike Hugger, and Bike World News (just to name a few).
It is not hard to see why this bike immediately started spreading around the web. For one thing, it looks great. The matte black and red graphics on the special McLaren version really do compliment the lines of the frame nicely (there is also a regular S-Works version that can be seen here). McLaren’s involvement in the development process also helps to generate much of the initial interest in this project. Check out this video of Duncan Bradley from McLaren’s Applied Technologies group explaining just how they were involved.
Of course, the interest in this bike goes beyond the nice aesthetics and the association with a company known for F1 cars. I don’t necessarily believe that Specialized “reinvented the road bike” with the Venge, as this Adventure Journal post claims, but we all know that “reinventing” a racing bike is impossible while working within the UCI’s narrow equipment guidelines. It is obvious that much design and engineering thought went into the UCI legal Venge though. I won’t get into all of the technical details about the frameset; Bike Rumor and other sites have already done a good job with that. I do want to briefly pass along the story behind the design and development process though.
Specialized’s head of research and development Chris D’Aluisio first had the idea that led to the development of this bike in 2006, after riding a modified Transition. A couple years later in 2008, D’Aluisio and Specialized industrial design director Robert Egger built a bondo model of the bike known by the working name SR10. Development continued on the SR10 as the Shiv project got underway that same year. Building on the lessons from the Shiv, CAD work resumed on the bike that would become the Venge in early 2009, just before McLlaren contacted Specialized about a possible future collaboration. The first Venge frames were completed and presented to the UCI in August of ’09. The design was rejected by the UCI at that time (no surprise there), so the team quickly got to work on a redesign. In January of 2010, D’Aluisio presented the latest version of the Venge to Saxo Bank. The design was refined further a month later when a wind tunnel test resulted in a “eureka moment for cambered airfoil x-section seatstays”. It wasn’t until July of 2010 that McLlaren began to collaborate with the Specialized designers on the Venge project. A few months later, in November, the refined design was tested on the track in Milan. A month after that, Mark Cavendish rode the bike for the first time and declared that he loved it.
We will find out soon if Cav’s love for the Venge will last. Cavendish will be one a few riders from Specialized sponsored teams racing Milan-San Remo on the new bike tomorrow…and we know that he can be fickle about his equipment. You may remember that he initially gave the new Scott F01 his thumbs up, but ended up going back to his familiar Scott Addict after only one day on the new bike in the 2010 Tour. Milan-San Remo is only a one-day race (albeit a long one), but it will still be interesting to hear what Cav is still singing the bike’s praises after the race. Either way, I would love to try this bike out. Maybe I am just buying into the hype, but this new flagship model from Specialized is definitely on my wish list.